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which, however inexplicably, makes us new-born child, crying aloud unto Him feel at once that this book or this who alone can understand our total stranger understands us, refreshes and
agony of desolation.
But this great helps us—is to us like a flower in a solitude of suffering is impossible to sick room, or a cup of water in a river- many; and indeed can only be sustained less land.
without injury by those strongly religiIt would be curious to trace, if any ous natures unto whom the sense of the but immortal eyes ever could trace, how Divine presence is not merely a tacit strongly many lives have been influenced belief, or a poetical imagination, but a by these instinctive sympathies; and proved fact--as real as any of the facts what a heap of unknown love and bene- of daily life are to other people. With diction may follow until death many a whom it is impossible to argue. Let him man-or woman—who walks humbly that readeth understand, if he ; and unconsciously, on, perhaps, a very it be given him to understand, these obscure and difficult way, fulfilling this great mysteries. silent ministry of consolation.
But one truth concerning sorrow is We are speaking of consolation first, simple and clear enough for a child's and not without purpose ; let us now comprehension ; and it were well if say a little word about sorrow.
from childhood we were all taught it; It may seem an anomaly, and yet is namely, that that grief is the most nobly most true, that the grief which is at borne which is allowed to weigh the least once the heaviest and the easiest to heavily on any one else. Not all people, bear is a grief of which nobody knows“; however, are unselfish enough to persomething, no matter what, which, for ceive this. Many feel a certain pride whatever reason, must be kept for the in putting on and long retaining their depth of the heart, neither asking nor “sackcloth and ashes,” nay, they condesiring sympathy, counsel, or allevia- ceive that when they have sustained a tion. Such things are—oftener per- heavy affliction, there is sort of dishaps than we know of; and, if the suf- grace in appearing too easily to "get over ferer can bear it at all, it is the best and it." But here they make the frequent easiest way of bearing grief, even as error of shallow surface-judging minds. the grief itself becomes the highest, we They cannot see that any real wound in had almost said the divinest form of deep, true, and loving heart is never sorrow upon earth. For it harms no
“got over." We may bury our dead one, it wounds and wrongs no one ; it is out of our sight, or out of our neighthat solitary agony unto which the bour's sight, which is of more importangels come and minister-making the ance; we may cease to miss them from night glorous with the shining of their the routine of our daily existence, and wings.
learn to name people, things, places and Likewise, in any blow utterly irreme- times, as calmly as if no pulse had ever diable, which strikes at the very core of throbbed horribly at the merest allusion life, we little heed what irks and ir- to them, but they are not forgotten. ritates us much in lesser pain-namely, They have merely passed from the outer to see the round of daily existence to the inner fold of our double life. moving on untroubled. We feel it not; Which fold lies nearest to us, we know; we are rather glad of its monotonous and which are usually the most precious, motion. And to be saved from all ex- the things we have and hold, or the ternal demonstrations is a priceless re- things we have lost-we also know. lief ; neither to be watched, nor soothed, It may seem a cruel word to say—but nor reasoned with, nor pitied : to wrap a long-indulged and openly displayed safely round us the convenances of so- sorrow, of any sort, is often an ignoble, ciety, or of mechanical household associ- and invariably a selfish feeling ; being ation ; and only at times to drop them a sacrifice of the many to the few. If
quaintance, with its percentage, large or tion and wisdom combined ; which small, of those whom we heartily re- nothing, but tender instinct united to spect, we shall always find that it is the a certain degree of personal suitability, highest and most affectionate natures will ever supply. For, like a poet, a which conquer sorrow soonest and best; nurse, either of body or mind, nascitur those unselfish ones who can view a non fit. We all must know many exmisfortune in its result on others as well cellent and well-meaning people, whom as on their own precious individuality; in sickness or misfortune we would as and those in which great capacity of soon admit into our chamber of sorrow loving acts at once as bane and antidote, as we would a live hippopotamus or a giving them, with a keen susceptibility herd of wild buffaloes. to pain, a power of enduring it which Perhaps (another anomaly) the sharpto the unloving is not only impossible est affliction that any human being can but incredible. It is the weak, the endure is one which is not a personal self-engrossed, and self-important, who grief at all, but the sorrow of somebody chiefly make to themselves public altars else. To see any one dearly beloved of perpetual woe, at which they worship, writhing under a heavy stroke, or connot the Dii manes of departed joys, but sumed by a daily misery which we are the apotheoses of living ill-humours. powerless to remove or even to soften, is
An incurable regret is an unwhole- a trial heavy indeed-heavier in one some, unnatural thing to the indulger of sense than any affliction of one's own, it; an injury to others, an accusation because of that we know the height and against Divinity itself. The pastor's depth, the aggravations and alleviations. reproof to the weeping mother-"What,
never fathom another's have you not yet forgiven God Al- sorrow,—not one, even the keenest-eyed mighty ?" contains a truth which it were and tenderest-hearted among us, can good all mourners laid to heart. How ever be so familiar with the ins and hard it is to any of us to “forgive God outs of it as to be sure always to minisAlmighty ;” not only for the heavy ter to its piteous needs at the right time afflictions which he has sent to us, but and in the right way. Watch as we for the infinitude of small annoyances, may, we are continually more or less which (common sense would tell us, in the dark, often irritating where we if we used it) we mostly bring upon would soothe, and wounding where we ourselves ! Yet even when calamity would give our lives to heal. comes- undoubted, inevitable calamity Also, resignation to what may be -surely, putting religion altogether termed a vicarious sorrow is cruelly aside, the wisest thing you can do with hard to learn. We sometimes a wound is to heal it, or rather to let it goaded into a state of halfmaddened heal ; which it will do slowly and protestation against Providence, feeling naturally, if you do not voluntarily keep as if we—kept bound hand and foot it open into a running sore. Some on the shore—were set to watch a fellowpeople, with the very best intentions, creature drowning. To be able to beseem to act upon us like a poultice lieve that Infinite Wisdom really knows over gaping flesh; and others again what is best for that beloved fellowofficiate as surgical instruments, laying creature far more than we do, is the bare every quivering nerve, and press- highest state to which faith can attain; ing upon every festering spot till we and the most religious can only catch it cry out in our agony that we had in brief glimpses through a darkness of rather be left to die in peace, unhealed. angry doubt that almost rises at times Very few have the blessed art of letting into blasphemous despair. From such nature alone to do her benign work, agonies no human strength can save ; and only aiding her by those simple and while they last every human consomeans which suggest themselves to the lation fails. We can only lie humble at instinct of affection,—that is, of affec- the feet of Eternal Wisdom, yielding
into His hands not only ourselves but quiet endurance ; or an unseen hand, by our all. And surely if there be such a some strange and sudden sweep of desthing as angelic ministry, much of it tiny, clears the dark and thorny pathmust needs be spent not only on suffer- way, and makes everything easy and ers, but on those whose lot it is to stand peaceful and plain. by and see others suffer, generally hav- But this does not always happen. ing all the time to wear a countenance There are hundreds of silent martyrs in cheerful, hopeful, or calmly indifferent, whom a keen observer can see the shirt which in its piteous hypocrisy dare give of horse-hair or the belt of steel points no sign of the devouring anxiety that under the finest and most elegantly-worn preys on the loving heart below. clothes; and for whom, to the shortMention has been made of those seeing human
seeing human eye, there appears no griefs, wholly secret and silent, which possible release but death.
The only are never guessed by even closest friends ; consolation for such is the lesson,-subthe sacred self-control of which makes lime enough to lighten a little even the them easier to bear than many a lesser worst torment,--taught and learnt by that anguish. In contrast to these may be majestic life-long endurance which has placed the griefs that everybody knows for its sustenance strength celestial that and nobody speaks of, such as domes- we know not of, and for which in the tic unhappiness, disappointed love, cark- end await the martyr's bliss and the ing worldly cares, half-guessed unkind- martyr's crown. nesses, dimly suspected wrongs ; mi- These “few words” are said. They series which the sufferer refuses to may have been said, and better said, a acknowledge, but suffers on in a proud hundred times before. There is hardly or heroic silence that precludes all others any deep-thinking or deep-feeling human from offering either aid or sympathy, being who has not said them to himself even if either were possible, which fre- over and over again ; yet sometimes a quently it is not. In many of the con- truth strikes truer and clearer when we junctures, crises, and involvements of hear it repeated by another, instead of human life, the only safe, or kind, or only listening to its dim echoes in our wise course is this solemn though heart- own often bewildered mind. To all who broken silence, under the shadow of understand the meaning of the word which it nevertheless often happens that sorrow, we commend these disjointed wrongs slowly work themselves right; thoughts to be thought out by thempains lessen, at all events, to the level of selves at leisure. And so farewell.
head as to what he could do to set
matters right. The conviction in which SECOND YEAR.
he always landed was that there was For some days after his return home nothing to be done, and that he was a -in fact, until his friend's arrival, Tom desolate and blighted being, deserted of was thoroughly beaten down and wretched, gods and men. Hardy's presence and notwithstanding his efforts to look hope- company soon shook him out of this fully forward, and keep up his spirits. maudlin nightmare state, and he began His usual occupations were utterly dis- to recover as soon as he had his old tasteful to him; and, instead of occupy- sheet-anchor friend to hold on to and ing himself, he sat brooding over his late consult with. Their consultations were misfortune, and hopelessly puzzling his held chiefly in the intervals of wood
craft, in which they spent most of the conservatories, and pianofortes—a mil-
ion, their discussions on the advantages of emi- appointed trysting place, before Hardy, gration, the delights of clearing one's and spent a restless half-hour in the own estate, building one's own house, porch and bar waiting for his return. and getting away from conventional life At last Hardy came, and Tom hurried with a few tried friends. Of course him into the inn's best room, where the pictures which painted bread and cheese and ale awaited them, included foregrounds with beautiful and, as soon as the hostess could be got children playing about the clearing, and out of the room, began impatientlygraceful women, wives of the happy “Well ; you have seen her?” squatters, flitting in and out of the log- “Yes, I have come straight here from houses and sheds, clothed and occupied the rectory." after the manner of our ideal grand- “And is it all right, eh ? Had she mothers; with the health and strength got my letter ?” of Amazons, the refinement of high-bred “Yes, she had had
letter.” ladies, and wondrous skill in all domes- “And you think she is satisfied ?" tic works, confections, and contrivances. “Satisfied ? No, you can't expect her The log-houses would also contain to be satisfied.” fascinating select libraries, continually mean, is she satisfied that it isn't reinforced from home, sufficient to keep so bad after all as it looked the other all dwellers in the happy clearing in day? What does Katie think of me?" communion with all the highest minds “I think she is still very fond of of their own and former generations. you, but that she has been puzzled and Wondrous games in the neighbouring outraged by this discovery, and cannot forest, dear old home customs estab- get over it all at once.” lished and taking root in the wilderness, Why didn't
tell her the whole with ultimate dainty flower gardens, story from beginning to end?"
“I tried to do so as well as I could." dear fellow, there is nothing for it but
“Oh, but I can see you haven't done time.” it. She doesn't really understand how “Well, I suppose not," said Tom, with it is.”
a groan. “Do you think I should call “Perhaps not; but you must remem- and see Katie ?” ber it is an awkward subject to be talk- No; I think better not." ing about to a young woman.
I would Well, then, we may as well get sooner stand another fellowship exami- back," said Tom, who was not sorry for nation than go through it again.”
his friend's decision. So they paid their “ Thank you, old fellow," said Tom, bill and started for home, taking Hawk's laying his hand on Hardy's shoulder; Lynch on the way, that Hardy might see “I feel that I'm unreasonable and impa- the view. tient; but you can excuse it; you know “And what did you find out about that I don't mean it."
young Winburn ?” he said, as they "Don't say another word; I only passed down the street. wish I could have done more for you.” Oh, no good," said Tom ; "he was
“But nat do you suppose Katie turned out, as I thought, and has gone thinks of me?"
to live with an old woman up on the “ Why, you see, it sunis itself up in heath here, who is no better than she this: she sees that you have been should be; and none of the farmers will making serious love to Patty, and have employ him.” turned the poor girl's head, more or
“ You didn't see him, I suppose ?” less, and that now you are in love with “No; he is away with some of the somebody else. Why, put it how we heath people, hawking besoms and chairs will, we can't get out of that. There about the country. They make them are the facts, pure and simple, and she when there is no harvest work, and loaf wouldn't be half a woman if she didn't about into Oxfordshire and Buckinghamresent it.”
shire, and other counties, selling them.” “ But it's hard lines, too, isn't it, old “ No good will come of that sort of fellow ? No, I won't say that; I deserve life, I'm afraid.” it all, and much worse.
But you think No; but what is he to do ?” I may come round all right ?"
“I called at the lodge as I came “Yes, all in good time. I hope away, and saw Patty and her mother. there's no danger in any other quarter?" It's all right in that quarter. The old
“Goodness knows! There's the rub, woman doesn't seem to think anything you see.
She will go back to town dis- of it; and Patty is a good girl, and will gusted with me; I shan't see her again, make Harry Winburn, or anybody else, and she won't hear of me for I don't a capital wife. Here's your locket and know how long ; and she will be meet- the letters; so now that's all over.” ing heaps of men. Has Katie been “ Did she seem to mind giving them over to Barton ?”
“Yes ; she was there last week, just “Not very much. No, you are lucky before they left.”
there. She will get over it.” "Well, what happened ?”
“But you told her that I am her “She wouldn't say much ; but I friend for life, and that she is to let me gathered that they are very well.” know if I can ever do anything for her ?”
“Oh, yes, bother it, of course, they “Yes ; and now I hope this is the are very well. But didn't she talk to last job of the kind I shall ever have to Katie about what happened last week?" do for you.”
“ Of course she did. What else should “ But what bad luck it has been! If they talk about ?"
I had only seen her before, or known “But you don't know what they said ?” who she was, nothing of all this would
“No; but you may depend on it that have happened." Miss Winter will be your friend. My To which Hardy made no reply; and